Greatest Valentine’s Day Gift

Valentine’s Day was always our favorite holiday of the year. My husband loved pampering me with gifts, flowers, romantic candle-lit dinners and always – cards. Some of my most cherished poems are written inside my Valentine’s Day cards. In one of our more penny-wise years, he hand-made a card out of a brown lunch bag – “love in a plain brown wrapper”.

I still have the first Valentine’s Day gifts and card he gave me – a coffee mug adorned with red hearts and “I Love You Today, Tomorrow, Forever” and a little cow that plays a lullaby. Some years he gave me tulips which we planted in our garden to enjoy each following spring. Some years I received roses or chocolates, and one year he surprised me with diamond earrings! But for every Valentine’s Day, he put so much thought into the cards, poems and gifts because he wanted to absolutely delight me.

Last March as we sat on our patio enjoying time together, he looked at me dismayed and very apologetically he said, “I’m sorry we didn’t have a romantic Valentine’s Day.” I told him it was the best ever, and I proceeded with the story.

I said, “I wore red, your favorite color for me, and the Three-Hearts brooch you gave me years ago. I sat at your bedside clinging to your hand and kept talking to let you know I was there. Around 11:00 a.m., Jeri stepped into the room, and your face lit up. At noon, two more visitors arrived. Despite the two-visitor limit for ICU, the nurses were compassionate and let all four of us stay in the room.”

I continued, “The other visitors were Pastor Dan and Elder Bob. Pastor Dan pastor pulled out a bottle of Zephyrhills pure spring water and proceeded to baptize you. Bob anointed you with frankincense oil, and we all joined hands and prayed for God’s merciful healing.”

At that point, tears were streaming down John’s face. He looked at me with his hands raised towards heaven and said, “Finally, I am a Child of the Most-high God!” You see, in all our years together, he had expressed his desire to be baptized. But like so many of us busy with life, we didn’t make it a priority.

Finally, last year on Valentine’s Day, John received the baptism he had always wanted. And even after our many romantic dinners, kisses, thoughtful presents, and cards, this turned  out to be the greatest gift either of us could have asked for – a gift that joined our souls even more completely than before.

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This Gift I Give To You From Me

In this season where many spend countless hours trying to find that “perfect gift” for friends and loved ones, I want to share a beautiful gift that my dear husband shared with me. It wasn’t wrapped in pretty paper or a beautiful gift bag, but it was written from his heart and soul. It’s the reason for the season, love . . . true love. It’s the greatest gift you can give.

I hope you enjoy, and I hope you share.

The presents are all opened from under the tree,

But there is still one more to you from me.

It can’t be wrapped with paper and bow

To hide its beauty so it won’t show.

For it shines brightly for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

I guess I should tell you in case you don’t know

That this gift is forever and each day it grows.

It grows bigger and stronger for all to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It’s like the bright sun at the breaking of day.

It guides my path as I search my way.

The direction it shows is plain to see,

This gift I give to you from me.

It guides me to happiness, to love I’d never known.

It takes me to worlds I’d never before been shown.

What is this gift? I know you easily see,

This gift I give to you from me.

This gift is my LOVE, every ounce I have to give.

I pray that you will take it so that I may live.

My most precious possession, I hope you can see

Is this gift I give to you from me.

Please take my heart, my soul and my love.

Wrap them in your arms as gently as a dove.

Merry Christmas, my LADY, with true love from me.

This is the gift I give to you from me.

Remembering . . . Can Be Inspiring

Remembering is painful, it’s difficult, but it can be inspiring and it can give wisdom.” ~Paul Greengrass

A friend of mine suffered what I believe is the absolute worst nightmare for a parent – losing your child. It’s been over 19 months for her, but her heartbreak and struggle continue even to this day. Three months ago, I, too, suffered a tragic loss; something that I never imagined.

Jean was the first person to reach out to me and provided the greatest gifts – a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy, the gift of her time. She invited me over for lunch. She let me cry on her shoulder without giving advice and instruction. She bought chicken soup over which we cried more and let grow cold. She disclosed that most friends and family eventually became weary of her grief funk and slowly distanced themselves from her. She confessed that she used to be “one of those people” – she avoided the griever because it was too uncomfortable — until it it happened to her.  Their tears continued, they didn’t smile even after months.  “Stop it already”, “be strong”, “get over it”, “get professional help” is all she could think.

She told me that well-meaning people want to fix you. Some will try to label your grief; after all, if it is correctly diagnosed, then there is a solution, right? Some psychiatrists and counselors have identified “stages of grief”; unfortunately, they aren’t linear. She told me you won’t move from one to the next in a nice step-by-step process. Or like C.S. Lewis describes “am I going in circles, or dare I hope that I’m on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down?”

She shared that the one and only thing she wants to do is talk about her son. She wants to tell everyone she meets about her son. She wants to remember all 28 years of his short life. Despite the pain that remembering brings, it provides comfort to share because she remembers the beautiful person he was while he was here. She told me that some choose to forget or not acknowledge because it’s less painful for them – “out of sight, out of mind”.

I am experiencing everything she shared with me like it’s a well-scripted play. Like her, remembering John is not an option; it’s a conscious choice. I remember my gorgeous husband, my friend, my companion and my soul mate. I remember because we were blessed with 20 wonderful years together; to not remember means these years didn’t exist. I remember the beautiful memories we created together which motivate me to write. I write because I promised to share our love story. Eventually, I will share our story because we want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and make them reality.

My request, if you have read this post, is that you develop empathy, not unresponsiveness.  The greatest gifts you can provide to someone like me and my friend are a listening ear, words of comfort, empathy and the gift of your time.

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